Tuesday, March 08, 2011

What Were The Real Causes of The American Revolution?

When people consider the causes of the American Revolution, the slogan "No Taxation Without Representation" comes to mind. And so does the Boston Tea Party (1773), the Stamp Act (1765), and those "Sons of Liberty" tarring and feathering British officials in the streets. For many people, the American Revolution is seen as the byproduct of colonial unrest over unfair taxation. This is a very shallow understanding of the War for Independence. British efforts to restrict trade, control the colonial economy, arrest expansionism, restrain colonial dissent and protest, and station troops in North America all contributed to a rising tide of discontent that led to war. What was at stake ultimately wasn't how much in taxes colonists were willing to pay, but rather the fundamental issues of freedom and self-determination.

"No Taxation Without Representation"

The most famous slogan of the colonies leading up to the American Revolution was "No Taxation Without Representation." The fact that this slogan endures today shows the power of good public relations. Words - coined effectively and succinctly - have staying power! The power of slogans notwithstanding, when people conclude that the War for Independence was about taxes, they forget these simple facts:

  • The most burdensome and controversial tax levied on the colonies was the Stamp Act of 1765, which was repealed in 1766 (nine years before military hostilities broke out and ten years before independence was declared)
  • The last major tax which preceded the war itself was the Tea Act of 1773, which represented a paltry tax on British tea in North America -- so paltry, in fact, that British tea (taxed as it was) was still cheaper than smuggled Dutch tea
  • When the Second Continental Congress enumerated the specific grievances in the Declaration of Independence, they listed "imposing Taxes on us without our Consent" as Number Seventeen!

Clearly, if taxes were the main cause of the American Revolution, the war would have started sooner than it did, and the Founding Fathers would've thought to list it higher up in the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence.

So, if not taxes, what then?

Self-Government: The Real Issue Behind the War for Independence

With the conclusion of the French and Indian War and the ascension of King George III to the throne, the British government shifted its economic policy toward her North American colonies. Prior to the Seven Years War (or "French and Indian War" as it was called in North America), the British were content to allow the colonies to more or less govern themselves. After the French and Indian War, things changed.

The British extended their mercantilistic policies of trade restrictions and economic control, and began to directly tax the American colonists for the first time. In response to domestic tensions, they stationed more troops, undermined the authority of colonial assemblies, and ultimately imposed martial law in New England (and threatened to do so elsewhere). By the 1770s, it was clear that the British no longer respected the tradition of American self-governance.

The cause of the American Revolution was best summed up by militia volunteer Levi Preston. Interviewed over 50 years after the events of the Revolution, Preston gave the following explanation for the American Revolution: "What we meant in going for those redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn't mean we should."

Recommended Reading

For more on this important subject, read the Declaration of Independence, Common Sense, and a previous blog post "What Led to the American Revolution?"

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Five Diorama Ideas: Possible Historical Diorama Projects for Students, Hobbyists, or History Buffs in General

This is a slightly revised version of an article I wrote for Suite101 a couple years back. The diorama ideas cover American history in general, not simply the American Revolutionary period, but I thought my readers here might be interested nonetheless.


Five Diorama Ideas: Possible Historical Diorama Projects for Students, Hobbyists, and History Buffs in General

American history is an exciting subject, especially for those able to put themselves into history. Those who dislike history have never captured the ability to immerse themselves in it, instead seeing the past as a frustrating array of names and dates. Getting past that misconception is one of the important keys in capturing a love for history (or getting one's child to love history), and dioramas are a great tool in achieving this.

A diorama is a miniature scene, depicting an episode or setting from the past. It's kind of like an artificial, three-dimensional "snapshot" of the past, and it can be a compelling way for someone to connect with history.

To make a diorama, you will need:
  • cardboard box or sturdy container of some kind
  • dollhouse dolls or miniature figures
  • miniature trees, rocks, and other outdoor objects
  • dollhouse furniture (depending on your diorama)
  • modeling clays
  • miniature animals
  • paints
You should also check out this great diorama starter kit from Amazon and ask a local hobby store employee for anything else you might need.

What follows are five suggestions for exciting dioramas depicting events and settings of American history. Whether you are a history buff, hobbyist, or history student, these suggestions for dioramas should get your creative juices flowing. They are:

1) The Drafting of the Declaration of Independence

Your diorama will feature the committee appointed by the Second Continental Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence. There were five delegates on the committee -- three of which are household names (Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson). This scene can be depicted with a wooden or plastic surface, painted and/or 'treated' to resemble a colonial hardwood floor. You will then need a colonial desk and at least two chairs. Sitting should be Thomas Jefferson, pen in hand preferably, and also the elder statesman Benjamin Franklin. John Adams can be standing, peering over Mr. Jefferson's work.

2) Lewis & Clark

For this scene, you need two principal explorers (Lewis and Clark obviously) and perhaps a couple individuals accompanying them (Sacajawea perhaps). Have them standing on a rock cliff overlooking a valley, peering through a telescope into the distance. Backgrounds are key here. Attention to detail in the painting will be critical. You will need to use a combination of miniature trees, rocks, cliff-like facades, and paints to create the effect.

3) GIs Around a Sherman Tank

Show a squad of US infantry gathered around a Sherman tank in World War II, taking a brief respite from the action of the day. Have three or four sitting on the tank, with several others leaning against it or sitting around the perimeter. You'll need grass, dirt, stone, and good painting for the backgrounds. To add to the effect, you could have a smoldering German Panzer in the background. Put some dead bodies around as well.

4) World War I Trench Warfare

This will take some elaborate planning, but it's one that will look absolutely awesome when you're done - provided it is of course done right. Not only that, but it will showcase one of the most interesting and significant aspects of the Great War -- life in the trenches. Your diorama should feature soldiers living along a trench line, in various modes from sleeping, watching through the periscope, eating, and so forth. The rest of the diorama (working our way forward from the trench) will be "No Man's Land" with barbed wire, dead bodies, shell holes, debris, etc.

5) USS Monitor v. CSS Virginia

How about a diorama featuring the most important naval battle in US history - the Civil War fight that signaled the end of wooden ships and the rise of the modern navies? This was the fight that pitted the CSS Virginia (the raised and retrofitted USS Merrimack) against the "cheesebox on a raft" (otherwise known as the USS Monitor), the first warship with a movable turret.

Dioramas are time-consuming and can be very tedious. For more information on how to do them effectively, you should check out Sheperd Paine's How to Build a Diorama. The reward of dioramas, however, makes them worth it - provided, of course, they are done right. Good luck.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Revolutionary War Genealogy: A Case Study in Research Using Free Resources

So far, I've been able to trace my paternal ancestral line back to the early 1800s, with a general idea about my relatives during the Revolutionary War. Given that I'd like to find out more, I've taken a particular interest of late in genealogical research. I came across this case study over at EzineArticles.com, which I thought might be of interest to my readers.


Genealogy Research Using Free Internet Resources - A Case Study

By Linda Altman

Using free genealogy resources available on the internet, we will determine that the Abraham Labar married to Ann Marie Lange is not the same individual as Col. Abraham Labar of Revolutionary War fame.

Previous Genealogy Research Performed

The following information has already been determined by prior research. Abraham Labar was born in 1752 and died on 24 January 1814. He was married to Anne Marie Lange and they resided in Upper Bethel Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Using this information as Abraham Labar's unique identifiers, we can separate him from other men with the same name in the same location.

The Quest:

According to the information provided, Abraham Labar is the correct age to have been able to serve in the Revolutionary War. In this case study, we did not use any for fee websites. Instead we resorted to online research techniques that include the use of search engines, free genealogy websites that offer transcriptions of records, and websites from state archives.

The first place we looked for Abraham Labar, is in the US census. 1790 is the year we will start searching. This is the first federal census taken in the US. You can expect to find the names of the head of household and a listing of other residents, by gender and age. Our quest for Abraham Labar shows the following 2 records located in 1790 US census, Upper Bethel Township, Northampton County:

  • Abraham Labar household: 3 males aged 16 and over, and 7 females.
  • Margaret Labar household: 3 males aged 16 and older, 3 females. Margaret is probably a widow.

We continue our search to the 1800 census. This census contained the same information as the 1790 census, however the age categories are expanded. We found 1 entry of interest:

  • Located in 1800 US census, Upper Bethel Township, Northampton County, Abraham Labar, aged 45 or older, 1 female aged 45 or older.

This is most likely the same Abraham Labar listed above; at 48 years of age his information fits.

There are other places to look for genealogical records other than the US census. We expanded our search to the Pennsylvania State Archives. Their ARIAS database reveals 5 records of interest:

  • Abrm. Labar, Lieutenancy: Northampton, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Company, Captain Henry Allhouse, 4th Class, 16 May 1780, inactive duty militia.
  • Col. Abraham Labar, 5th Battalion, PA Militia, September 1776 to May 1777.
  • Abraham Labar, no rank specified, 5th Battalion, 4th Company, Captain John Long, 1 May 1782.
  • Col. Abraham Labar, 5th Battalion, 1777-1780.
  • Col. Abraham Labar, accounted for £ 310.10.0, entrusted to him September 1776 for recruiting the flying camp. [Flying camps were a special battalion of PA line troops].

These records show that there are 2 different Abraham Labars, serving from the same area of Pennsylvania. Which one is the man we are looking for?

Our last stop in our research is DAR online lookups. The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) has a record for Col. Abraham Labar that is of great importance.

  • Col. Abraham Labar, born in Delaware before 1750, Colonel from PA, no pension, Died in PA after 1777. His wife is Margaret Gordon.

This Col. Abraham Labar, contained in the DAR records, is most likely the spouse of Margaret Labar, listed in the 1790 census above. In addition this rules out that the Col. Abraham Labar, is not the ancestor of my client. Here is why:

Abraham Labar (1752-1814), married to Anne Maria Lange, would only have been about 24 at the onset of the American Revolution. This is very young to have obtained the rank of Colonel by 1776. Abraham Labar, the subject of our research, is married to Anne Marie Lange, not Margaret Gordon.

There is no way to determine if Lt. Abraham Labar from above is the man we are looking for, however, we can rule out that he is NOT the same individual as Col. Abraham Labar, because he could not serve in 2 separate units, with 2 separate ranks at the time.

These records clearly indicate that there were 2 men named Abraham Labar from Upper Bethel Township. In depth research will completely identify the Abraham Labar of our research as a separate and distinct individual from the Col. Abraham Labar listed in the records above.

© 2008 Linda Altman and Southern Genealogy. All rights reserved.

Linda Altman is a writer and researcher with 10 years of genealogy research experience. Her company Southern Genealogy, http://www.southerngenealogy.com specializes in Census research, and families of the southeastern US, in particular, North Carolina families. Other areas of expertise include passenger lists, Native American research, and New England family research. This article may be reprinted as long as this entire box and copyright are included with it.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Linda_Altman